(Dress: Etsy; Custom Hair Piece: The Botanist Co; Photography by Janet Lin Photography)
When my dear friend and photographer Janet and I set out to do this photoshoot, I was already eager to share the photos with you all! I was thinking to myself how I would tell you all about how this is the perfect dress for a maternity shoot (true) and how wonderful and easy Janet is to work with (absolutely true)! And about how I was so excited to finally do a beach shoot on beautiful Bainbridge Island (true again)! But when Janet sent me photos I became overwhelmed by something else, and I wanted to share that with you instead. I felt overwhelmed with guilt.
Let me explain. During my pregnancy, I have battled hyperemesis gravidarum and have spoken candidly about how that has effected my life. From the non-strop vomiting, and all the way into an anti-nausea medication induced depression. After I had Julian and I looked back on my pregnancy, I would think to myself, “well of course you didn’t really enjoy it! You were miserable!” But in the moment, being pregnant, it is so hard to offer myself that same kind of grace. So, what do I feel, but guilt. Guilt for not loving and embracing pregnancy. Guilt, for the days that I despised it.
I look at these photos and I feel like I can see myself in a different light. I can see the beauty of pregnancy. The miracle of it. The edges have been smoothed. And I feel guilt for not seeing it sooner.
That is so hard for me to say. I do not by any means want to seem ungrateful for the daughter that is growing inside of me. I am very aware that pregnancy loss and infertility are something that many women struggle with. Women I know personally and those I do not know. Even my dear friend Janet has experienced great loss as a mother and written beautifully about it. And so, the guilt over not loving pregnancy keeps piling on.
I am blessed beyond measure for my daughter. And I need to come to terms with the fact that pregnancy is not easy for me. That yes, on somedays I cried to my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore. That I wanted my old life back. And the worst, that I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. I have tears in my eyes as I type that because it breaks my heart to confess how dark things were for me. But it is the truth.
Offering yourself grace is not always simple. And I think we as women struggle with it particularly. So, I am vowing to see myself and my pregnancy differently. I am choosing to see myself and my experience through a different lens, and to embrace it from here on out. Even if that’s just a few more weeks. I’m choosing to embrace it for the joy and the miracle that it is. But, I am also choosing to accept the darkness of those first 6 months. And to not feel the guilt and weight of them any longer.
Moms, you don’t have to love pregnancy. You don’t even have to like it to still be grateful and appreciative of its gifts. But you don’t have to feel guilty for feeling the way you do. Feel what you feel, and remember that, like most things, this too shall pass. Sending love and grace to all.